China Southern Airlines celebrates 10 years of flying to New Zealand

So much has changed since China Southern Airlines began flights to Auckland, but after 10 years the airline says it's still committed to the New Zealand market.

It may be hard to believe, but China Southern was the first airline from mainland China to operate flights to New Zealand when it launched its service from Guangzhou on April 9, 2011.

That number has grown to five since then. Air China, China Eastern Airlines, Hainan Airlines and Sichuan Airlines all launched services in the years following.

It's not hard to understand why - in 2019 alone, China Southern carried more than 260,000 passengers between Guangzhou and Auckland, five times more than their first year flying the route.

Inside China Southern Airlines Headquarters in Guangzhou.
Inside China Southern Airlines Headquarters in Guangzhou. Photo credit: Newshub/Dan Lake

Scott Tasker, the airline's general manager aeronautical commercial, said China Southern's arrival in the Aotearoa market was game changing, and not just for flights to and from China.

"China Southern led the way in opening up new routes from Auckland into China and onwards throughout Asia and Europe," he said.

It was the airline's services to Europe that made it popular with many Kiwis, often selling airfares to Europe for less than $1500 return.

"They've always been innovative - they were the first airline to introduce a regular Boeing Dreamliner service into Auckland, and they even brought an Airbus A380 here on a one-off service in 2012," Tasker said.

Intense cabin crew training at the airline's HQ.
Intense cabin crew training at the airline's HQ. Photo credit: Newshub/Dan Lake

In 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline operated 252 flights into New Zealand, transporting more than 50,000 passengers and 6000 tons of cargo.

"As the world faced the reality of COVID-19 border closures, China Southern's commitment to maintaining the air bridge between China and New Zealand meant people could get home, medical equipment came to Auckland and valuable New Zealand exports could be carried abroad."

The airline marks a decade of flying into Auckland with a charity event today at Ronald McDonald House.